The treatment of Afghan children with congenital heart defects--either at domestic medical centers or abroad--has been suspended for the last four months because of a lack of funds, officials at the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) said on Sunday.
Officials said that more than 1,000 children with congenital heart defects have been registered since the beginning of 2021 and are waiting to be treated inside or outside the country, but the process of treatment has been halted. Red Crescent says that as many as 6,000 Afghan children in total are waiting for treatment.
“The problem occurred due to economic conditions; the Afghan Red Crescent was very active in the past because some countries were supporting the Red Crescent, but they do not help right now,” said Noor Aqa Sahibzada, a spokesman for the organization.
Abdul Mohammad, from Mazar-e-Sharif, visited the Afghan Red Crescent office in Kabul to register his 12-year-old son, Mohammad Zaher, who has heart defects.
Abdul Mohmmad said he borrowed money to pay for the cost of travel from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul.
“My son was about two months of old when his disease was diagnosed, but we were not financially able to pay for treatment,” said Abdul Mohammad.
Based on the reports of ARCS, eight to ten children with congenital heart defects visit the Red Crescent office daily seeking treatment.
“When children with congenital heart problems are diagnosed, they have to be treated or operated on as soon as possible,” said Mohammad Rafi Hamidi, a specialist.
The Afghan Red Crescent said it has treated at least 13,000 children since 2008.